Cameron Archer and Gustavo Hamer provide survival hope for Sheffield United - final word on Blades versus Everton
There’s no Woodward or Currie these days either, but they have got Hamer and Archer.
Safety won’t be soon. Yet with the aforementioned duo, they at least have a chance after securing their first point of what will be an undeniably tough 2023-24.
Thirty-three million, as daft as it sounds, doesn’t get you much in the Premier League in today's marketplace.
Saturday’s evidence suggests the Blades might, just might, have struck gold with their recent dual investments for outlays of £15m and £18m respectively.
If Paul Heckingbottom’s side are to finish in the higher echelons of what will be a mini-league of half a dozen or so clubs at the bottom of the table, including Everton, expect these two to have a fair bit to say about it.
Everton have a £30m man who could well prove the difference himself in Beto. He had his moments at the weekend, but the one player on the royal blue side of the Mersey who is likely to have the definitive say as to whether they keep out of the relegation zone or not was further back.
Jordan Pickford has had plenty slung at him over the years - and not just crosses, shots and headers either. It’s water off a duck’s back.
With the Shoreham Street End giving their all to suck in a late winner at the end of an absorbing contest in the early autumn sunshine, England’s number one defiantly said no and was not to be moved.
His reaction save to push Oli McBurnie’s downward header onto the woodwork was a stunner. His follow-up block to stop the rebound going in was the reason why Gareth Southgate entrusts him with the goalkeeping gloves to represent the nation in the big, proper games.
Afterwards, Heckingbottom ruefully said: "I am a big fan. That moment is probably what I am thinking about for the next two weeks. Definitely…”
Archer produced a couple of big moments himself and the Blades chief is an unabashed fan, as he is of Hamer.
The fact that many Premier League clubs, including leading ones, also do not elect to delve into the Championship to pick up talents like Hamer is a curious oddity.
In their comparatively fertile period under David Moyes, Everton did that to hugely successful effect to sign the likes of Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott, both in attendance on media duties on Saturday.
Hamer and Archer, who put himself on the map at Middlesbrough and Preston, produced a sign of things to come, hopefully, early on.
Hamer’s pass to send Archer clear was instinctive.
The Blades striker delayed for a split-second and Everton captain James Tarkowski produced a fine last-ditch challenge. Archer was not put off.
The visitors had led through a close-range effort from Abdoulaye Doucoure, cashing in on some lamentable United defending - the major worry on the day - after Amadou Onana won the initial header too easily from Ashley Young’s outswinging corner.
Fortunately, Archer would display the mark of a craftsman in a move instigated by Hamer.
His crisp low cross found McBurnie who cushioned the ball expertly into the path of Archer, whose first-time strike was deadly and instinctive.
Given the travails of the Blades’ last big-money striker in the luckless Rhian Brewster, it was a big psychological moment.
As good as the finish was, the fact that both Hamer and Archer were central figures in it was telling.
Heckingbottom commented: “We took a risk in how we wanted to get Gus on the ball and get beyond Everton's midfield. It left us a little exposed at certain times.
“But I felt it was a risk worth taking.
"I really like those two players and am delighted we've got them. Certainly when we started the window, we weren't looking at players like that.
"Circumstances have changed and meant that all of a sudden, we've been able to look at those type of players. I'm delighted to have them both.
“Every day we have got stronger. The window has just closed now and we know what we've got. The bench has got stronger every game.
"We have worked so hard to get to this point."
After a goal on his first Premier League start, Archer clearly had the taste for more.
His clinical low shot on the stroke of half-time rebounded into the net off the back of Pickford after hitting the post.
There was interval joy at the Lane and hope.
The second half was hairy at times and an Everton side who brought plenty to the table would level through the impressive Arnaut Danjuma, who troubled Anel Ahmedhodzic in particular.
But United hung in and so nearly won it. The talk after was of Pickford, but also Archer and Hamer.
Sheffield United: Foderingham; Ahmedhodzic, Egan (Basham 68), Robinson; Baldock, Souza, Norwood, Hamer, Larouchi (Thomas 68); McBurnie, Archer (Traore 75). Unused substitutes: Davies, Trusty, Bogle, Slimane, Osula.
Everton: Pickford; Patterson, Tarkowski (Godfrey 90), Branthwaite, Young; Garner (McNeil 74), Gueye, Onana, Danjuma; Doucoure; Beto. Unused substitutes: Virginia, Mykolenko, Chermiti, Lonergan, Onyango.
Referee: A Madley (West Yorkshire).